Some of today’s brightest minds are divided on what AI means for mankind. Elon Musk thinks it’ll kill us all if we’re not careful. Whereas Mark Zuckerberg thinks the good will far outweigh the bad. But then Zuck’ would say that, given he’s at least part robot himself (Google ‘Mark Zuckerberg is a robot’ for more on that one…). Time will tell which tech billionaire is right…
But until the much-heralded moment of ‘the singularity’, or not, as the case may be, we in ChannelSight are far more concerned with what AI means for brands. And frankly, we believe they should feel far more threatened by the likes of Amazon Alexa than any liquid metal, Terminator-style robots.
Why? Because Alexa and other voice-controlled, intelligent, personal assistants such as Siri and Google Home are creating huge change in how consumers are buying goods, and with that, how brands must advertise to them. Essentially, brands need to start working out how best to advertise to robots. Yes, this sounds like the stuff of sci-fi, but rest assured, this is real. And if brands don’t adapt, well, hasta la vista, baby. Allow me to expand…
Why Do Brands Need to Start Advertising To Robots?
Take these stats: An April 2018 survey from Narvar found that ownership of voice-controlled, intelligent personal assistants, as well as voice shopping activity, have nearly doubled in the past six months. Specifically, they found a 42% increase in ownership of these devices among US online shoppers, and a 41% increase in consumers using them to shop.
The growth here is exponential, and clearly illustrates how shopping is going in a whole new direction. And while this makes for a greatly enhanced consumer experience, it should be striking terror in to brands.
Why? Well, let’s say you ask Amazon Alexa to buy you batteries. Alexa offers you Amazon batteries. You decline. She offers you a second variety of Amazon batteries. Again you decline. Alexa, knowing you lack the visual cues of other brands, decides to tell you that’s all she can find for batteries right now, and goes back to The Cloud to play Minecraft with Siri or whatever it is she does in her down time.
Of course there are other non-Amazon batteries available. But Alexa isn’t offering them, despite them being available, and despite you having rejected the Amazon-brand batteries. How is a brand to advertise in this new situation where there is zero visual user interface? There are ways, which I will be outlining in a further blog post on this increasingly urgent issue next week. But before then, let’s first expand on the issue a little more.
How Algorithms Will Start Buying Products On The Consumer’s Behalf
This technology will see the likes of Amazon leveraging data to build out increasingly detailed profiles of their users, with voice-controlled personal assistants interpreting these profiles, anticipating the preferences and needs of users, recommending them products accordingly, and automatically buying products on their behalf.
All of this is a massive change in consumer behavior, and represents the first fundamental shift in the evolution of shopping since the days of the hunter-gatherer. Back then, you knocked something over the head and dragged it to your cave to eat. Walking in to a supermarket, taking items off the shelf, paying for them at the check-out and bringing them home is essentially the same thing. As is online shopping with the likes of Amazon Prime subscriptions, except it’s automated.
But now we’re entering a totally new age of retail in which AI is deciding what it thinks you want to buy, and then further refining future behavior based on the feedback it gets. So, for example, if a consumer decides they don’t like a particular brand of product that was shipped, AI takes this in to account, adds it their profile, and adjusts how it buys future products for them.
Consumers Will No Longer Be Making Purchasing Decisions Themselves
And this is what I mean when I say brands need to start learning how to advertise to robots. Because in the first shift away from making shopping decisions ourselves, we are now handing over control to algorithms that will make these decisions for us. So, how do you influence these algorithms, or, in other words, how do you advertise to robots?
This question may sound futuristic. But it’s not a question for tomorrow. It’s very much a question for today. And brands risk ignoring it at their peril. So, to prepare your brand for the Robopocalypse, tune in to the second part of this blog next week, where I’ll be exploring this fascinating topic further, discussing what it means for the future of digital marketers, and outlining seven key steps all brands must take to begin successfully advertising to robots.
To learn more about how to optimise your digital marketing strategy before the robot takeover, book a demo with one of our team today!